tv PBS News Hour PBS October 30, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> hold me accountable for the debacle. i'm responsible. >> woodruff: secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius faced 3.5 hours of questioning on capitol hill today about the troubled affordable care act. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this wednesday, an exclusive interview with senate republican leader, mitch mcconnell on the challenges facing his party, and on various political firestorms, including whether sebelius should resign over the botched health care rollout. >> i don't think albert einstein could make it work. it can't work, it won't work, and i feel sorry for her to have to be put in a position where she's trying to make something work out that won't. >> woodruff: and worries about pint-sized players taking big
hits and getting head injuries. we delve into the debate over kids' sports, and the risk of concussions. >> woodruff: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> my customers can shop around; see who does good work and compare costs. it can also work that way with healthcare. with united healthcare, i get information on quality ratings of doctors, treatment options and estimates for how much i'll pay. that helps me and my guys make informed decisions. i don't like guesses with my business and definitely not with our health. that's health in numbers. united healthcare. >> support also comes from
carnegie corporation of new york, a foundation created to do what andrew carnegie called "real and permanent good." celebrating 100 years of philanthropy at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the secretary of health and human services was called before congress today to defend problems with the new health care overhaul. kathleen sebelius said the program's website has been a debacle, but she also faced a host of other questions. "newshour" congressional correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage. >> reporter: for secretary sebelius, the first order of business-- before the energy and commerce committee-- was mea culpa. >> i am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch
of healthcare.gov, so let me say directly to these americans: you deserve better. i apologize. i am accountable to you for fixing these problems, and i'm committed to earning your confidence back by fixing the site. >> reporter: but sebelius faced new questions that go beyond technical problems on the website. they involve a government memo showing before the site launched on october first, medicare officials worried inadequate testing left it vulnerable to security breaches. republican mike rogers of michigan: >> you allowed the system to go forward with no encryption on backup systems. they had no encryption on certain boundary crossings. you accepted a risk on behalf of every user of this computer that put their personal financial information at risk because you did not even have the most basic end-to-end test on security of the system.
amazon would never do this. proflowers would never do this. kayak would never do this. this is completely an unacceptable level of security. >> reporter: sebelius contended the website is secure and that additional measures are being taken. >> authorization to operate on a permanent basis will not be signed until these mitigation strategies are satisfied. it is underway right now. but daily and weekly monitoring and testing is underway. we have... >> reporter: sebelius acknowledged overall testing of the web site was rushed, but that she believed potential problems had been addressed. >> do you believe that two weeks was enough time to complete testing of the entire system? >> clearly not. >> and when were you made aware of the result of the test, including the one where the system collapsed with only a few hundred users? >> leading up to the october 1st date, we had regular meetings
with not only a team at c.m.s., but administrators involved. i was made aware that we were testing, and as we found problems, we were fixing those problems. >> reporter: republicans also pressed again for numbers: namely how many people have been able to enroll for insurance in light of the technical issues. >> will you on the record right now authorize them to give us those numbers and let us determine whether those are reliable >> no, sir, i want to give you reliable confirmed data from every state and from the federal marketplace. we have said that we will do that on a monthly basis by the middle of the month. you will have that data but i don't want to turn over anything that is not confirmed and reliable and that's what we'll do. >> well, but that data out there exists and you will not let us have them... >> sir i will tell you right now it is not reliable data according to the insurance companies who are eager to have customers. they are not getting reliable
data all the way through the system. that's one of the real problems that we have. >> reporter: at the same time, sebelius acknowledged initial enrollment numbers are likely to be low. >> well, our projections prior to launch were always that there would be a very small number at the beginning. we watched the massachussetts trend which started slowly and built. i think there's no question that given our flawed launch of healthcare.gov it will be a very small number. >> reporter: some democrats, including lois capps of california, pointed to the relative success of state-run exchanges. and, they challenged republican critics to meet the demand for affordable health insurance. >> the governors and state legislators that embraced this law are delivering for their communities. but those elected who are trying to ignore the opportunities presented and continue to throw up roadblocks both here in congress and in state legislators should not now seem surprised that there are significant bumps along the way. this seems to be completely disingenuous.
>> reporter: in today's testimony, secretary sebelius didn't address calls by some republicans that she resign. she promised again the website will be fixed by november 30. and she took on the criticism insurance companies are canceling thousands of existing policies despite the president's pledge individuals could keep their plans if they wanted to. in other words, they'd be grandfathered in. >> we outlined the grandfather policy so people could keep their own plans. we then began to implement the other features of the affordable care act. so if someone is buying a brand new policy in the individual market today or last week, they will have consumer protections for the first time. but if, again, a plan is in place and was in place at the time that the president signed the bill and the consumer wants to keep the plan, those individuals are grandfathered in, and that's happening across the country in these individual markets. >> reporter: sebelius said only about five percent of amercians were affected by cancellations-- a claim rejected by republicans who questioned her repeatedly on the issue.
marsha blackburn of tennessee said many policyholders have simply been left in the lurch. >> what do you say to mark and lucinda in my district, who had a plan, they liked it, it was affordable, but it is being terminated, and now they do not have health insurance? >> insurance companies cancel individual policies year in and year out. they're a one-year contract with individuals. they are not lifetime plans. they're not an employer plan... >> let me move... let me move on. if what they wanted and i will remind you, some people like to drive a ford, not a ferrari, and some people like to drink out of a red solo cup, not a crystal stem. you're taking away their choice. >> reporter: toward the end of the hearing, the white house released a statement saying president obama has complete confidence in secretary sebelius. >> ifill: we'll hear some of what the president had to say today about the health care roll-out, right after the news summary. the federal reserve announced today it's keeping short-term interest rates at a record low,
and continuing its stimulus efforts for now. but, the central bank did not repeat last month's warning that higher mortgage rates could hurt economic growth. the statement made no reference to the economic impact of last month's 16-day government shutdown. wall street took those omissions the dow jones industrial average lost 61 points to close at 15,618. the nasdaq fell more than 21 points to close at 3,930. house and senate negotiators opened budget talks today aimed at easing automatic, across-the- board spending cuts. the two budget committee chairs- - republican congressman paul ryan and democratic senator patty murray said they hoped to get a deal, but the prospect of raising taxes remains a sticking point. >> simply taking more from the hard-working families of america just isn't the answer. i know my republican colleagues feel the same. so i want to say this from the get-go.
if we look at this conference as an argument about taxes, we're not going to get anywhere. the way to raise revenue from our perspective is to grow the economy, to get people back to work. >> compromise runs both ways. while we scour programs to find responsible savings, republicans are also going to have to work with us to scour the bloated tax code and close some wasteful tax loopholes and special interest subsidies because it is unfair and unacceptable to ask seniors and families to bear this burden alone. >> ifill: the committee has until december 13 to hammer out an agreement. otherwise, the next round of cuts will kick in next year. we'll have more on this, later in the program. there's word that the national the deficit ran $680 billion -l last month. the first time red ink has fallen below a trillion dollars in five years. today's report said revenues rose by 13% while spending fell nearly 2.5%. there's word that the national security agency is routinely
intercepting e-mail traffic between yahoo and google data centers. "the washington post" reported today it's being done jointly with british intelligence, and involves millions of records every day. the n.s.a. director-- army general keith alexander-- challenged the report, which surfaced from more material leaked by edward snowden. alexander said to his knowledge, the agency has not tapped the company's servers. two top german officials were in washington today, pursuing reports that the n.s.a. monitored chancellor angela merkel's cellphone. and in madrid, spanish prime minister mariano rajoy went before his parliament to address allegations that spain, too, was a target of u.s. surveillance. >> ( translated ): the key is to clarify what happened and generate confidence because without that, it is very difficult to work for the rights, liberties and security of our citizens. i hope we will get this. we have already requested the appearance of the head of spain's intelligence services and he will appear in this chamber as soon as possible. >> ifill: the government of
china also weighed in, announcing today it will strengthen information security, to guard against outside surveillance. chinese police say they've arrested five people in a suicide car crash this week in beijing. on monday, an s.u.v. sped down a crowded sidewalk and exploded into flames across from tiananmen square at the entrance to the forbidden city. five people died. scores were hurt. state television today identified the suspects as ethnic uighurs, a restive muslim minority in northwestern china. >> ( translated ): the october 28 incident was a carefully pre- meditated and organised violent terrorist attack. the results of the preliminary investigation have been released the police found petrol inside the vehicle as well as receptacles for petrol, two machetes, and iron bars. inside the car, they also found a banner with extreme religious content printed on it. the attack was the first in beijing in the city's recent history. in iraq, a pair of suicide bombings killed at least 20 people overnight. nearly two dozen others were wounded.
one of the bombings targeted soldiers and militiamen in the town of tarmiyah, north of baghdad. the other took place at a checkpoint outside a police station near mosul. the latest violence came as iraqi prime minister nouri al- maliki traveled to washington in search of additional military aid. beginning next week, the town of sanford, florida will no longer allow neighborhood watch volunteers to carry guns. the decision follows the july acquittal of neighborhood watch organizer george zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed teenager trayvon martin last year. sanford police say they want to return to having civilian patrols report what they see to authorities, but do nothing more. social security benefits will go up just 1.5% next year an average of about $19 a month. the annual cost-of-living adjustment, announced today, is one of the smallest since 1975, when the automatic hikes began. it's because consumer prices stayed in check in this year.
the increase affects nearly 58 million americans. >> ifill: still ahead on the "newshour": president obama defends the health care law; an exclusive interview with the senate's top republican; the latest round of budget talks kick off on capitol hill. a new report on the risk of concussions for kids playing sports. and roger rosenblatt is back with his latest book. >> woodruff: we return now to president obama was on the road today, defending the affordable care act against its critics and outlining what he sees as its benefits. he noted that a similar law that was signed in massachusetts in 2006 had some bumps along the way but is considered successful now. speaking at boston's at fanueil hall, the president also offered an explanation for why some americans are being dropped from their insurance plans.
>> today the affordable care act requires insurance companies to abide by some of the strongest consumer protection this is country has ever known. a true patient's bill of rights. (applause) no more discriminating against kids with preexisting conditions. (cheers and applause) no more dropping your policy when you get sick and need it most. (applause) no more lifetime limits or restricted annual limits. (applause) most plans now have to cover free preventative care like mammograms and birth control. (applause) young people can stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26. all of this is in place right now. it is working right now. let's face it, we've had a problem. the web site hasn't worked the way it's supposed to over these last couple of weeks.
and as a consequence a lot of people haven't had a chance to see just how good the prices for quality health insurance through these marketplaces really are. now, ultimately this web site-- healthcare.gov-- will be the easiest way to shop for and buy these new plans because you can see these plans right next to each other and compare prices and see what kind of coverage it provides. but, look, it's -- there's no denying it. right now the web site is too slow, too many people have gotten stuck. and i am not happy about it. and neither are a lot of americans who need health care. and they're trying to figure out how they can sign up as quickly as possible. so there's no excuse for it. and i take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed a.s.a.p. we are working overtime to improve it everyday. unfortunately, there are others that are so locked in to the politics of this thing that they
won't lift a finger to help their own people. and that's leaving millions of americans uninsured unnecessarily. that's a shame. because if they put as much energy into making this law work as they do in attacking the law, americans would be better off. (cheers and applause) americans would be better off. if you had one of these substandard plans before the affordable care act became law and you really like that plan you are able to keep it. that's what i said when i was running for office. that was part of the promise we made. but ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, well, we said under the law you've got to replace them with quality comprehensive coverage because that, too, was a central premise of the affordable care act from the very beginning.
and need promise means that every plan in the marketplace covers a core set of minimum benefits like maternity care and preventative care and mental health care and prescription drug benefits and hospitalization and they can't use allergies or pregnancy or a sports injury or the fact that you're a woman to charge you more. (cheers and applause) they can't do that anymore. so, yes, this is hard. because the health care system is a big system. and it's complicated. and if it was hard doing it just in one state, it's harder to do it in all 50 states. especially when the governors of a bunch of states and half of the congress aren't trying to help. yeah. it's hard but it's worth it. it is the right thing to do and we're going to keep moving forward! (cheers and applause) we are going to keep working to improve the law just like you
did here in massachusetts! (cheers and applause) >> ifill: now, for a different point of view, we turn to our newsmaker interview with senate minority leader mitch mcconnell. we talked about the health care rollout, government surveillance, the recent government shutdown and the battle over the federal budget. i spoke with him this morning in the capitol. senator mcconnell, welcome. as we speak this morning, kathleen sebelius is testifying in the house about healthcare.gov and you have called obamacare a rolling disaster but you haven't called for her to resign. why not? >> well, look, i don't think anybody could make this work. we said back in 2009 when it was passed without a single vote to spare, not a single member of my party in the house or senate voting for it it couldn't possibly work. we predicted that insurance -- health insurance premiums would go up, jobs would be lost and the president's prince pal promise that if you had your health insurance and you liked
it you'd be able to keep it, none of that would happen. regretfully, from the point of view of those who advocated this, the critics were entirely correct. the web site may be good item for late night comedy but even if people are able to get on it, one thing you can be sure of is the choices will not be good, the premiums will be higher. >> ifill: but back to secretary sebelius. she said this morning she should be held accountable. you don't think accountability involves resignation? >> she works for the president. the president makes a decision about whether he wants to continue her. i think that's to some extent a distraction. the point is could anybody make it work? i don't think albert einstein could make this thing work. it can't work. it won't work. so i feel sorry for her being put in a position where she's trying to make something work out that won't. i've -- sooner or later they'll get the web site fixed but that's not the real story. the question is what's going to be available once you are able to get on a web site. >> ifill: on another topic
consuming people here on capitol hill this week, this idea that we are spying on our allies in some way. is this something you consider acceptable? >> well i think the intelligence committees are looking at that very carefully. they may well be making recommendations for changes and i'm going to leave it to the experts. i do think it's important that we haven't been attacked again here at home other than just -- the boston experience i think maybe is an exception to that, but haven't been attacked again here at home since 9/11 in the way that we were, the magnitude that we were. and i think the programs have had some impact on that. so we need to be careful here in trying to figure out how to reform this and not let our guard down. we don't need to go back to the time when all the c.i.a. was just a bunch of folks carrying around briefcases. we're in a new era with a new challenge. >> ifill: should there be a line between spying, gathering
intelligence, and eavesdropping on the personal phone calls of world leaders? >> well, i think we're going to look at all of that. i think countries do spy on each other. friends even spy on each other. shock of shocks. we need to look at all that and make sure that if any reforms are needed we engage in them. >> ifill: another roiling issue here on capitol hill is what's going to happen to the nomination of janet yellen to be the chairwoman of the fed. your seat mate, i believe, in kentucky, rand paul, has said he would like to block that nomination in order to get answers about benghazi. do you think that's a good approach? >> well, one of the things we frequently to in the senate in order to be able to have input on nominations is to hold them up so you can have a debate, talk about the issues they'd be responsible for if they were to be confirmed. it's fairly routine around the senate for nominations that have some level of controversy about them to be held up so that there can be a discussion about what you might do if you got the job.
>> ifill: except this is not about her. it's being held up explicitly for an unrelated reason. >> well, every senator does that from time to time. it's not unusual in the senate. >> ifill: that's okay by you? >> it happens everyday in the senate. >> ifill: in this particular case it's okay? >> it happens all the time in the senate. >> ifill: let me ask you another question about the senate and its behavior lately. it's not been a quiet time the last month or so and you have famously said after the last shutdown there's no education the in the second kick of a mule. so i have to ask you about the second kick of a mule. what happens when we come back to this argument about debt limits again next year and back to this argument about continuing resolutions for the budget? is there a third kick of a mule in the offing here? >> no, we're not going to shut the government down. we're certainly not going to default. but it's an important time to talk about the $1 trillion debt we've run up. about -- looking at it another way, we've accumulated more debt during the obama years than all the presidents from george
washington to george bush. this is an alarming statistic. further evidence of what we're leaving behind for the youngest generation. so when you do something like raise the debt ceiling it's not been uncommon going back to the 12950s for there to be significant reforms attached to it. frequent they happens with a continuing resolution. we think it's alarming that america now has a debt that makes us look like a western european country and we think we ought to use these occasions to generate a discussion about it and see what we can get the administration to agree with. >> ifill: but did republicans hurt themselves in making the kind of arguments you're laying out here for the long run because of the shutdown? because of a strategy which was about defunding, delaying obamacare that you lost? >> well, that was the strategy that obviously was not going to work. i said publicly as early as july it wasn't going to work and it didn't. and that's why there won't be another government shutdown. it's a strategy that doesn't
work. all republicans would love to get rid of obamacare. but it's important to recognize it's a democratic senate and a democratic president who think it was a terrific thing. so that isn't going to happen. it is, however, important, gwen, when you're doing something like that, considering a continuing resolution to operate the government or the president's request to raise the debt kreiling so see if we can do criminal important to take us in a different direction. >> ifill: let's talk about strategy. is there a deal that could be struck between increasing discretionary spending and instituting entitlement reform? savings that way? >> there is the possibility for trading sequester relief. in other words, spend more now, for significant entitlement changes. >> ifill: where is that conversation happening? >> well, it will happen first in the budget conference led by paul ryan and patti murray. it's happened frequently when the speaker and i have engaged with the administration in one of these occasions in the past. and we'll have that discussion
again. the problem has been the administration has been insisting on a massive tax increase as a condition for doing any kind of entitlement reform. my members-- both in the house and senate-- don't believe we have this problem because we tax too little. they believe we have it because we spend too much and that's been a pretty significant difference of opinion about how to get out of deficit and debt. >> ifill: is there a way that you can make your party-- obviously you don't have the numbers in the senate-- what you have described as a consequential minority in the next several months, several years where it doesn't seem to be right now? >> oh, i think we are a consequential minority. >> ifill: explain to me how. >> we control the house and we have a significant number in the senate and an excellent chance of taking the senate in 2014. obamacare, for example, that you and i have just been discussing is going to be, in my view, the largest and most significant issue in the tpwour 2014 electi.
the american people don't like it. they're realizing the consequences of it. they know who's responsible for it. there's a clear difference between the two parties on obamacare and that's a debate we intend to have with the american people. >> ifill: is there a divide-- as is popularly discussed now-- between the tea party wing of the party and the mainstream wing of the party? >> only on tactics. on the issues i think we're largely united. take obamacare, for example, there are no divisions among republicans on obamacare. we think it was a mistake, we'd all vote to repeal it if we could. we had a big debate about tactics and i thought linking opposition to obamacare to shutting down the government-- something people hate even more than obamacare-- was not a smart strategy and i said so. i'm still saying so. that's a bad strategy. but on the substance, on the merits, i think there's very little difference of opinion among republicans about the way we'd like to see the country go.
the direction we'd like to take. >> ifill: you realize there are still members of your caucus who disagree with you about the tactics and plan to do it again? or at least they say they do. >> a big majority of my conference thought the tack thyss were a bad idea and don't intenintend to do it again. >> ifill: senator mcconnell, thanks so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: you can find more of my interview with senator mcconnell, including his thoughts about his reelection campaign and tea party challenge on our website. that's at newshour.pbs.org. >> woodruff: today's talks between lawmakers from both chambers and parties marked the group's first formal meeting to negotiate differences on funding the government over the long term. the conference committee was formed in the agreement ending the 16-day partial government shutdown. the session revealed stark differences on taxes, spending and the debt remain. for more, "newshour" political
editor christina bellantoni joins me now. welcome again, christina. conference committees used to be a regular feature of the congress but not anymore. how did this one come about? >> well, what you saw in the end to the shutdown is we want to avoid this short-term budgeting, we want to stop budgeting several weeks at a time so let's put in place a budget that's a year-long plan. the senate has its plan, it's controlled by democrats, the house has its plan controlled by republicans so this is a way to get a small group of people together in theory to privately work out those differences and come up with a compromise. but, as you noted, there are a lot of very stark differences. another big difference is that you used to see people operating on these long-term one-term budgets. they've actually done 16 continuing resolutions over the last few years. they haven't on rated under a full budget since october 1, 2010. they've been operating under continuing resolutions that are just short-term uncertain ways
for people to find out how they'll fund their agency. >> woodruff: almost three years. christina, how do members line up on this? it's not just republicans united versus democrats united? >> not exactly. there's 29 members. you've got four house republicans, three house democrats and then every member of the senate budget commit committee which is interesting, it's a little lopsided to have the senate. and it's not a clear divide between the democrats. you've got some democrats that are in favor of seeing some changes to entitlement programs like medicare and social security. you've got some liberal democrats who are saying absolutely no changes to those things, we will fight tooth and nail against that. the republicans are almost unanimously opposed to tax increases. they are unanimously opposed to tax increases. that's what you heard today. another thing to point out about them is that every single republican on the committee voted for paul ryan's budget. he's the budget committee chairman, this is a budget that cuts taxes, reduces the deficit, but also makes big change to entitlement programs. the democrats on this panel all voted for patti murray's budget. she's the budget chairman in the
senate and that budget would raise taxes by almost a trillion dollars and looks at some other ways to cut the deficit but not by nearly as much. >> woodruff: given that they're so far apart, did you gate glimmer of what just emerged from this as we heard in gwen's interview with senator mcconnell, the republican majority leader. he talked about there may be a tradeoff, the sequester cuts versus something cut -l entitlements. >> you heard a common theme today that the sequester is crude and none of us like it and in its second year-- which is what would nap this conference committee doesn't work and there isn't a long term budget-- it would be harsher. so i talked to aides in both committees today that said, well, there are some things we can do. among them, looking at very small changes like things to change the way the block grant system is funded where you're giving communities small amounts of money for things. even the supplemental nutrition assistance program, the food stamp program we've talked about with the farm bill, that's another area where they see cuts rather than have the sequester
across-the-board cut they're looking at small targeted things. now the democrats, of course, have pushed tax increases and they've talked about maybe if you ended some of the corporate tax loopholes, maybe end the offshore tax havens that might be something republicans could get on board for. but what you heard in the consensus was that they really want more stability in the budget process. they can't keep doing this short-term thing, they don't want to have another shutdown so everyone said we're hopeful even though we're not -- we're pretty confident there's not going to be a big grand bargain. >> woodruff: expectations going into this are pretty low. did they seem to -- are the signals they're getting that they want to avoid failure or what? >> yes. they definitely want to try to avoid failure. their deadline is december 13. they're not meeting again until november 13. but what's happening behind the scenes is that the members are meeting individually. you've got the staffs working together. they have two very detailed documents that they have to put together and find consensus on. so it's about the big picture items. if they can come to an agreement
they have time. now, the government is funded through january 15, so even if they miss that december 13 deadline, there's possibility of wiggle room there. >> woodruff: but they know there are consequences if they can't come to some kind of an agreement. spell out what the consequences are. >> well, the sequester kicking in into its second year, these more harsh across-the-board cuts, military spending, every agency has seen a cut. there was flexibility in agency it is first year so they could use money from the year before, this is the harsh intense cut. then you also have the flexibility of the debt ceiling because they have until february 7 for that to hit again, it's possible they could extend it further, do a short-term extension but people don't want to do that. every single lawmaker on this committee said "this is not what we want to see again." >> woodruff: and we just heard senator mcconnell say he doesn't intend to see not only a shut down of the government but a breach of the debt ceiling. so you're saying you do hear glimmers that maybe they can pull this off despite all the
forces working against them? >> right. and the democrats have been talking about the fact that the deficit as we reported earlier that the deficit is coming down. it's under a trillion for the first time and you'll hear them talk a lot about that. well, we've been able to do smart budgeting, it's the fastest rate going down since the end of world war ii and the republicans are saying, well, okay, let's keep talking about and that and figure out where we can come to an agreement. >> woodruff: christina plan tony, our political editor. thank you. >> ifill: now to the nagging, troubling questions about youth sports, the risk of concussions and how parents should weigh the tradeoffs. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: the n.f.l. is already playing under a new spotlight on concussions. days before the season began, the league agreed to a $765 million settlement with 4,500 former players.
they'd charged that owners concealed information on the effects of repeated head injuries. that history was the focus of a pbs "frontline" investigation that aired earlier this month on the links between head injuries and brain disease. now, a new study explores the risks for athletes well before they reach their college and professional years. the report by the institute of medicine-- a non-profit, independent organization-- focuses on sports-related concussions in youth, from elementary school through adolescence. one member of the panel, dr. frederick rivara-- of the university of washington school of medicine-- pointed to a key problem: the lack of data for this age group. >> there's essentially nothing known about concussions in elementary school and middle aged kids. and that's really why there's a need for more research in this area. it probably makes sense to everyone in the room that
guidelines for college kids don't apply to five-year-olds. >> brown: but some things are known. the study finds that besides football, sports putting children at highest risk include ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer for both boys and girls. helmet design does not necessarily reduce the risk of injury, despite recent efforts to enhance headgear. and a culture of resistance makes young athletes less likely to report concussion symptoms, so they can keep playing. the researchers call for the youth sports community to handle concussions as serious injuries, requiring full recovery. and it's clear parents are paying attention. a new marist poll says one in three americans are less likely to let their children play football due to concerns over head injuries. we hear from three people who are involved in all of this. doctor robert graham, of the george washington university, was the chair of the group that produced today's report.
fred mccrary is a former pro bowl fullback who played in the n.f.l. for 11 seasons ending in 2007. he now coaches his sons who play youth football. he also was a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the n.f.l. and tamara mcleod, an athletic trainer who works with schools and researches concussions. she's with a.t. still university in arizona and was a reviewer of today's report. robert graham, i want to start with you and pick up on just this question of what is and isn't known. we know that concussions are important events. what do we know about the long-term effects, especially, when it comes to young people? >> well, i think to pick up on the doctor's comment as we came into this conversation, you might say we know an increasing amount about the numerator. we know more and more about the incidents of how many concussions are reported in different sports and different agents. what we don't snow the denominator.
we don't know whether or not we're getting all of the reports and specifically research needs to be taken on a longitudinal basis. if something happens to somebody at the age of seven, what are the implications at the age of ten? at the age 2061? we don't have any of that. >> this ha s because there hasn't been attention paid to children at this age? >> i think what we're seeing is in the last five years, two years, an increasing amount of attention saying this may be a serious problem. it's not an area if you go back ten years that you find an awful lot of research. >> brown: let me ask you about one specific that i think might surprise a lot of people. helmets. >> right. >> brown: one of the things the study says is that helmets may be good for a lot of things but they don't help when it comes to concussions. >> remember, this committee had to deal with evidence, peer view viewed scientific studied, very high bar. but when you look at that, you don't find any evidence that any helmet actually reducing the incidents of concussion.
you still need to wear helmets because they do protect against skull fractures, soft tissue issues cuts but there's no evidence out there that is compelling that says if you wear this helmet you will have a lower incidence of concussions. >> brown: fred mccrary, i'd like to bring you into this, you experienced concussions, many of them i gather. one of the thing this is report cites is that the culture of sport, the warrior culture of sport, and that's something you experienced firsthand, right? tell us a little bit about that, how it plays into concussions? >> it plays a great role into concussions simply because this: when you get a concussion, it's more about the kids -- for me it's about my children, protecting my children. if i can go out and protect my children and get educated on it, i've done my job. i know what it's done to me. i've had hundreds, probably of concussions, what they consider
concussions today, i've had hundreds and for me to educate the youth on it and to give them my experiences, i think i've done a great job of it. >> brown: in your experience that the n.f.l. and what you see now today in a college level, even before we get down the young kids, is there more awareness or is there still a sense that the player should go back in the game? you know, you've got to get back in the game even if you're hurt? >> let me tell you this. >> you know, i think it starts at the top with the n.f.l. it goes from n.f.l. when n.f.l. was saying it's ongoing studies, ongoing studies. so why would the colleges do it? why would high schools do it? why would little leagues do it? there was no need since it was so many ongoing studies for the n.f.l. so why waste your time, why waste your money? it starts at the top and falls down in minute. what was your question again? sorry about that. >> brown: my question was about whether that culture of pushing people back into the
game even if they've already had a concussion still exists. >> probably not as much now. i'm pretty sure it's very, very little now because so much has been made of it. it's been brought to the light finally. but back when i was playing absolutely. you weren't allowed to get hurt. that wasn't just allowed. you get your butt back in the game, give him some smelling salts, he's fine, put him back in. because a lot of times they have nobody else. they say "we're trying to win a game, you're fighting your your teammates, you're fighting for your job. you waited all your life to become an n.f.l. player. nothing's going to stop you from going that into that game." so you lie about it, say your fine to get back in. >> brown: let me ask tamara mcleeed you. when you're dealing with younger high school and down to younger children, how much today are coaches, team doctors and others aware? in other words, who's really responsible and taking responsibility for concussions? >> sure i think it varies depending on the age group that
we're talking about. at the high school level about half of the schools in the country have a licensed athletic trainer who is there working under the direction of a physician. i think in many states the high school coaches are required to do some preseason concussion education. so there's definitely an increase in awareness at that level. when we get younger than high school, the youth sports, the club sports, the community leagues, i think that's where we see a lot of variations because there aren't the same mandates that some of the scholastic associations have regarding education for coaches, parents, or athletes. >> brown: have you seen specific changes in sports or in the way sports are conducted for young people? in other words, not allowing certain kinds of activities? is that taking hold? >> i haven't seen that personally. i think's definitely a lot of benefits to participating in youth sports and we don't want to send the wrong message in saying kids should not be participating. what we really want is to encourage youth leagues, parents, and coaches to become
educated, to understand what a concussion is so that they can recognize if their child has had a concussion and seek appropriate medical care. >> brown: robert graham, pick up on that. because the panel is not going so far as to call for particular changes or bans, correct? >> that is correct. >> brown: so what do you think is the take-home message for you as a doctor but also for parents listening? >> i think it come back to the main recommendation that was number six. it's not a research recommendation. it these do with this culture change and culture of resistance. the take home message there for us is it's really important for parents, players, coaches to recognize that this is an injury that is significant and it needs to be responded to. if a player is out on the field and broke their legge leg you wt take them to the sideline, tape them up and put it back in. you need to remove the player from play, treat them, rehabilitate them, and the
message to the parents is be sensitive to it, to the players. don't try to play through it. you're not running out on your teammates. to the coaches this is something where it's part of your responsibility not only to develop these athletes and help them become really proficient at the sport but also protect them and make sure something doesn't happen that harms them on down the line. >> brown: so fred mccrary let me bring you back in. here you are coaching your own sons and other young children, i guess, i was going to say young men but they're even still children. what do you tell them? i mean, is there part of you first of all that wishes they were not playing football? >> a part of me wishes they wouldn't. i would rather they play golf but since i'm their hero and they want to be like me, it's my job to teach them the proper way. so that's why i coach them. if i can teach them the proper way to block, the proper try tackle, that helps lower the risk of them getting concussions. and we have another thing on our team it's called a guardian cap
which we put over the top of their helmet to really protect and lower the impact, lessen the impact of their collisions. like kids' necks aren't strong enough. their heads, their brains aren't strong enough. and their hell system so heavy so when they fall they hit the ground and they concuss. so if they can -- if i can do that by protecting them with guardian cap, which is a very, very well put together item that goes over the top of your helmet, it works, folks, trust me. it works. my kids have had no concussions, thank god. even the ones that i coach. even the ones that i coach. >> brown: tamara mcleod, we cited this study by parents, many of them now worried about having their kids play football and other sports. do you sense that taking hold in any way? >> i haven't really seen it personally here. a lot of these t high schools and youth leagues we work with still have very full rosters.
the parents are definitely asking more questions about the athletic trainers, ensuring they have up-to-date information and i think that's part of the key is not to shy away from sports but empower yourself with knowledge about how to recognize and handle these injuries. >> brown: do you see this as a growing field for people like yourself? i mean, the research where we started this conversation, not a lot is known about people of this age. >> yeah. and i think the research is going to start to trickle down. the more we learn about these younger kids, the development with or without concussions and how best to manage these injuries is going to be important and just like we've started to learn more about recovery in college athletes and high school athletes, the youth sports athletes is the next frontier of concussion research. >> brown: and with you robert graham, briefly, what is next? what does your group want to see happen next in terms of research? >> well, i think grow back to the recommendations. we kept them very brief. there's a research agenda there
that we hope the national institutes of health, centers for disease control will start carrying out. there is a suggestion that you may be able to change some of the rules and styles of play to make it easier for young athletes not to suffer concussions. >> brown: rules as in -- >> an excellent example from the report in canada one of the youth hockey associations said, you know, below a certain age category we won't have body checking. di did that and the rate of concussions went down. >> brown: so you're suggesting other leagues look at that. >> take a look at that. and last is this whole culture of resistance from players, parents, coaches. this is a serious thing. this is something to be taken seriously. it's part of the background of sports. we don't want to see people quit playing sports. there's risks to a sedentary life-style but play smart. >> brown: all right, robert graham, fred mccrary, tamara mcleeed you, thank you very much. thank you.
>> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: part memoir, part homage to growing up in new york city. one time "newshour" contributor and author roger rosenblatt's new book is "the boy detective: a new york childhood". i spoke with him a little earlier today. roger rosenblatt, welcome. >> thank you. >> pelley: is so the book "the boy detective, a new york childhood" this is a memoir but also a love letter to new york city, that part of manhattan where you grew up. >> it was neither here nor there around gramercy park where i grew up and i never felt comfortable with the complacency of the park and the safety of the park so as a kid i would just wander around and follow people because i was a detective. and i put my cap gun in my shirt because kids didn't wear suit jackets so i looked as if i was carrying around a mango and people would turn afternoon. and to follow them closely
otherwise if they didn't know they were being followed nobody would and then when they turned around they'd looked perturbed at seeing a kid following them with a mango in his shirt. >> woodruff: (laughs) so this whole notion of being a detective, that was for rear real, what was the you did as a kid. >> that was my job. if i heard of a crime in the neighborhood i would go investigate it. the police would leave me alone and then i'd come home and look under my magnifying glass for a clue. it was my way-- even though i didn't know it then-- of expressing interest in the world and trying to solve problems that seemed mysterious. >> woodruff: you write about how as a young man when there was something you didn't understand it was because you felt you didn't have the words to deal with it. as a grown man walking back through your neighborhood, you found your words. >> that's interesting thing you hit that. that's a key passage. and the sadnesses of a family-- and every family has one, and ours did too-- children don't have the words for this. and i began to wonder and
speculate in the various speculations in the book whether i had pursued a life of words in order to express understanding. >> woodruff: in fact, i found the quote where you were writing about a young woman who had been murdered, a woman who worked in a tobacco shop and you write "she understood intuitively that i'd become a writer because no one would love me." did you mean to write that? >> yeah, well what i do is -- as you know i vary the ideas that come or vary the kinds of sections and i have edgar allen poe actually saying that. and it's poe who said "because nobody would love me." because there was a story that poe pursued this woman who was mary rogers whom he translates to marie roget in "the mystery of marie rogge" so i go into a book and have the character speak. >> pelley: it's interesting. you move from being a detective to certain flash backs to your childhood to deal with what w
what you've done in your life as an adult. i want to ask you to read something, roger, from the book, where you talk about being a writer and being a detective. >> sure. and i do this, as you know, throughout the book. i think that they have similar things, including codes of honor that ought to be followed. but this was "easy enough to say that you can be both a writer and a detective. a lot harder to pull it off. the one thing they both require-- the writer and detective-- is the desire to see what is not there and to make it as once orderly and beautiful. as in a flowertor answer to a math problem." >> woodruff: and you lay out in that the challenge of writing a memoir and you and i were just saying you've really come up with a new -- a different way of thinking about what a memoir is. >> i have, judy. and it took a while. it's a form in which i am now quite comfortable. the book will be called a memoir because there are limited categories to discuss literature
and, of course, it is technical, but i use memory differently. i use memory to fortify an idea. these books -- the last one, this one, and a couple that are in the pipeline are meditations on subjects in which i use my child haold as information to support the theme, the thesis of the medication. but it's not a -- the book isn't a phepl ray of my life. i use my life for other purposes. >> ifill: if it's not a classic memoir, what would you call this? >> i would call it a meditation. that is meditation of the subject of one's childhood or new york or detective. kayak morning was a meditation on grief. a finished a book as a meditation on love and i have an idea for a book set in ireland on the subjects of alienation and beauty and desolation. >> woodruff: and you find that in dealing with these subjects it's important to look back inside yourself. >> it's the only place i have
information that i can rely on and so therefore i draw on my life to say this happened and that happened and this is how i understand it now in the light of this idea. and the reason i mix up the forms-- much the way a pitcher mixes up a fastball and a curve and a cutter and a slider-- is so that i want the reader to be alert, the way a batter would be alert, now catch on a little too late-- which is what the pitcher wants to understand too late. >> woodruff: a lot of surprising turns in the book. you'll be read along about something that happened, some event in your neighborhood then you'll turn the page and it will be about a murder. >> exactly. >> woodruff: roger rosenblatt, it's a fascinating book. "the boy detective: a new york childhood." thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: the secretary of health and human services, kathleen sebelius, conceded the rollout of the new health care website has been a debacle.
but she turned aside republican claims that information on the site is not secure. president obama told a boston crowd that he's not happy with the health care rollout problems. but he said the state health care system in massachusetts also got off to a slow start. and the federal reserve announced it's keeping short- term interest rates at a record low, and continuing its stimulus efforts for now. >> ifill: first-born children, on average, do better in school, are less likely to have substance abuse problems and accumulate more wealth. on making sense, we get an economics perspective on how the way we raise these children can affect the rest of their lives. all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at the prime minister of iraq's visit to the white house. and call for help to end a spate of recent bloodshed. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill.
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